Q: As to construction, are we looking at ... ?
A: “That’s one of those questions that requires a book to answer,” Codega says. “Everybody wants the heaviest, most rugged hull you can get, but nobody wants to pay for the fuel to drive it through the water.” So, you need to ask specific questions. See if the seller leans forward with information or takes a step back. Even if you aren’t a construction expert, you’ll know a meatless answer when you hear it. “What kind of structural system do I have? Is it fully foamed in? What kind of structural tie-in?” Ellis says. “You see these manufacturers say it’s Kevlar-reinforced, but how much Kevlar? A little strip down the keel or a patch on the corner?”
Q: What’s the deadrise?
A: Again, this depends on what you want to do with the boat. “If you plan to take it offshore, you want more deadrise to give you a better ride,” Willard explains. But you also need to be a decent captain to keep a boat with sharp deadrise from jockeying around. Less sharp will demand less driver input, at the sacrifice of a rougher ride because of the wider running surface.
Q: Before I take ownership, can I take it out for another spin?
A: You want to make sure that the dealer has handled every item on your squawk list, all the promised accessories have been installed, and everything that was in the boat is still working. No excuses. “There should be a final inspection before hand-over,” Willard says. “Certainly for bigger boats that’s SOP; you go over everything.”
Q: Who’s giving me the new owner’s walkthrough?
A: The salesman is really interested in selling you the boat, not pointing out that a through-hull fitting should be replaced every third year. You want a mechanic, or the marina’s pro captain, to show you where everything is and to tell you how to use it. “You take something, say 40-foot and above, yeah, you can afford to send someone out to spend some time with the customer,” Ellis says. The more thorough the dealer is with the walk-through at delivery, the better response you’ll get when you need attention.
Q: Tell me about the safety equipment.
A: If the seller proudly points at the fire extinguisher, press on. For starters you want sturdy handrails with backing plates. “Is the cockpit self-bailing or does it drain to the bilge?” Willard suggests you ask. “You also want to know about durability,” says Glen Naroth of Marine Concepts in Cape Coral, Florida. “How hard is it to bust a hole in the bottom of the hull?” Oh, and that cruiser you wanted should have automatic fire suppression in the engine room.